Thursday, June 17, 2010

In it for the long haul, part 1

Oooh boy, this is going to be a long one. Hang in there folks, I may have to make this a two part post, but for what it's worth, here's my story....

4 1/2 years ago, my life took a turn that veered me off a cliff and into an ocean of tumultuous, current filled waves...I got married. Let me preface by saying that I married my high-school sweetheart at 21 and fully expected life to be all sunshine and rainbows. Ooh boy, was I in for a treat ;) The first 9 months were amazing, I mean, really, really amazing...we were the couple that people gag just thinking about because we were that "in love." Marriage was everything I had dreamed it would be and so much more,that is, until we got the call. We were two days into a cross country road trip and had spent the night in our tent. We were woken up by the phone. I vividly remember how bright the sun shone through the canvas as my hubby grogilly said hello into the receiver. Call it woman's intuition, or whatever you want, but I just knew that the news wasn't going to be good. I watched as my husband grew tight lipped, his voice becoming more and more official, as it does when he is speaking to someone of higher rank and a pit began to form in my stomach. "Oh God, please don't let this be the call, please," then, as quickly as the day is long, my world came crashing to a grinding halt-my husband was being deployed.

It felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. We had just gotten married, he was in the guards for pete's sake, he wasn't supposed to leave me, this wasn't suppose to happen. But it did, and 2 months later I tearfully bid my husband good-bye...completely unaware that I was pregnant with our first child.
Two weeks later, I took a pregnancy test alone in my bathroom. It was positive. SURPRISE! I wish I could tell you how I felt in that moment, as the reality of what was happening sunk into my head, but it's so hard to put into words. The joy and the pain both equal parts of the equation as I realized everything that I was gaining, yet all that was being lost. My hubby never did feel the baby kick in my stomach. He never heard the heart beat or saw the precious face of our unborn child in an ultrasound. He never helped me pick out paint or decorate the nursery. He never got to whisper sweet nothings through my womb, he never had the joy of watching his wife grow full with his child. Much was sacrificed for the call of duty.

When Alex left, we lived in a 300sq ft. studio apartment...perfect for a newly married couple just settling in, not so perfect for a single mom bringing a baby home. Sooo, being the go getter that I am, I decided that it only made sense for me to go looking for a house to buy. When I was seven months pregnant, I purchased our first myself! At closing, the real estate agent that helped to find our house completely blew me out of the water by offering ME a job. Well, of course I HAD to say yes. It just seemed too crazy of an offer not to accept, so in the span of a week, I moved into our new house, painted and decorated the entire thing (vaulted ceilings everyone) and started a new months pregnant. Crazy? I think so. In my defense, they say that a woman's brain shrinks 6% while she is, really, I couldn't help it.

Side note, my husband was deployed to the exact location that TIME magazine had rated the #1 most dangerous place in the world, so you can imagine how frightened I was when I didn't hear from my hubby for the entire 7th month of my pregnancy. He didn't have access to a phone or computer, but since I hadn't heard from him, I didn't know that.  Needless to say, it was scary.

Anyways, when I was 38 weeks pregnant I felt little feet on my bladder constantly and ultrasound confirmed what I suspected, my baby was breech; footling breech to be exact. My doctor proceeded to scared the stinkin' poo out of me declaring that if I didn't have a c-section in the next 2 days, my baby could potentially fall into the birth canal, onto the cord, sever the blood flow and  have 2 minutes to be taken out before she was a vegetable. That was almost word for word what he told me. Comforting, huh? So, since I was a newby with this whole mom/pregnancy thing, and trusted every word my doc told me, a c-section was scheduled for the following week. I was absolutely crushed. I had been looking forward to giving birth the "old fashioned" way. Somehow having a c-section made me feel like less of a woman. I know that mentality is crazy, but deep down, I felt that I had been cheated out of a basic right of womanhood. I actually had someone tell me that I "took the easy way out." Ouch....

So, miracle of all miracles (seriously, it had to be a miracle, the way the ARMY works), my hubby made it home 17 hours before I gave birth! It was so amazing. The next morning, our lives forever changed as we welcomed our precious Gracie May into the world. It was one of the most traumatic and joyous events of my life. In the span of mere hours, my world had once again turned completely upside down.
Alex was home for 2 glorious weeks and then flew back to Iraq to complete his remaining 4 1/2 months of duty. For me, the next several months after he left were some of the most lonely times I have ever experienced. I used to line up pillows behind my back and pretend that he was sleeping right next to me, not 6000 miles away in some God forsaken sand pit. My heart ached for my husband. Truth be told, at times it was hard to remember what it was ever like with him actually being a part of my life. it didn't even feel like he was a part of the equation with my new little one. He wasn't there for any of it, so it felt like it was just Gracie and me, conquering the cruel, hard world.

3 1/2 months later, sleep deprived (Gracie wouldn't sleep soundly for more than 15 minutes at a time), overridden with stress and lonelier than all get out,  I found myself sitting in the bathtub with my peanut trying to relax. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I was  overcome with the fear that I could drown my baby. My mind went wild, my heart started beating faster, my body began to shake as my head taunted me with cruel thoughts of becoming the next Andrea Yates. I was terrified. I didn't want my baby near me. I wanted her somewhere safe, away from this tormented monster that just happened to be me. I imagine that the mom who goes through ppd/ocd, endures some of the worst torture a mother can worst fear was that something could happen to my baby, but to have the thoughts that I was the one that could inflict the harm, well, that is one of the most horrific nightmares I could have ever imagined. That night in the tub felt like a light switch of terror had been turned on in my head. PPD/OCD swooped in and gleefully threw me into a downward spiral of horror. I had NO IDEA what has happening to me. I had never heard of this happening to anyone before. I knew of the baby blues, but this certainly was NOT the baby blues. This felt dangerous, evil, terrifying. So afraid was I of myself, I demanded that someone be with me at all times to ensure the safety of my precious baby. Gradually I entered a fog. Others were taking care of my baby and life began to feel unreal, like I was living in a dream, not really my own reality. I longed for sleep to take away my existence, free me from my prison of fear and thoughts that I was helpless to tame. I needed help. The doctor I went to told me that every new mother has ups and downs and that I was sleep deprived, nothing more. Right. I was sent home without help to live out my hellish sentence.

To be continued....


  1. I'm so glad you found my blog, and I yours! we both went through our PPD experiences alone in a way (different ways though of course) and we are plugging along. My son is almost 2. I know I keep thinking: I should be normal now! Everything should be back to like it was pre-baby! But I am slowly accepting that things don't move in the timely fashion I desire. The important thing is we are taking steps forward. I might never be the "old" me, and that's ok.
    you go girl! do you have twitter?

  2. Isn't that the truth! It certainly has taken A LOT longer than I ever expected it to, but little by little, I am getting there. I don't have twitter, but it seems like that is where all the action is, so I may have to join ;) Thanks for checking out my blog!

  3. I gave birth to my second daughter in July of 2009 and 3 months later that exact thing happened to me... intrusive thoughts.. I even remember saying to myself "I don't want to be like Andrea Yates." Also the fog and the dream like state is horrible and I feel your pain.. each day I get better and better. We all will.